On top of a US$2 billion aid package, the UK government is moving to protect the closure or destruction of theaters across the country. Credit: Globe Theater.

What would William Shakespeare say?

England’s theaters shuttered by a pandemic, thousands of actors and stage crew without work and a bleak future in the offing, with no sign of hope.

In an effort to halt that growing theatrical chasm, the British government announced special measures to prevent theaters and concert halls from falling victim to the Covid-19 pandemic, China.org.cn reported.

With changes to the country’s planning system in the coming week, cultural institutions across England will be saved from being redeveloped or demolished, said British Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick.

“These buildings cannot be easily replaced and are an intrinsic part of our cultural heritage, which is why the government is clear that temporary social distancing restrictions should not be an excuse for them to be permanently lost,” said Jenrick.

Town and city councils under the new rules will now need to take the temporary impact of coronavirus into account when considering permission for change of use, redevelopment or demolition of a theater, concert hall or live music performance venue, the report said.

The new move comes after the British government announced a package of some US$2 billion earlier this month to help the country’s renowned arts and cultural institutions, some of which warned that they may never reopen without support.

The Sun newspaper said this week many theaters have been plunged into economic turmoil by the shutdown, with some smaller theaters warning they may never return, the report said.

Shakespeare’s iconic Globe Theater in London was among the famous British institutions calling for a lifeline.

The theater was said to be in danger of closing permanently if it did not receive adequate funding to make up for losses from coronavirus-related lockdowns, the report said.

The Old Vic, another iconic theater in London, was reportedly also facing financial collapse due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Theaters in Britain were allowed to reopen from Saturday, but only for outdoor performances, the report said.

“Our theaters, concert halls and live music performance venues are the envy of the world and are central to our cultural heritage. It is vital they are properly protected by the planning system for both people today to enjoy and future generations,” Jenrick said.

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